By Marina Moody

Fifth-year Department of Neurosurgery resident Jacob Lepard, M.D., and his family recently returned home from the Cure Children’s Hospital of Uganda, where Lepard served for two months as part of a global surgery fellowship, jointly hosted by UAB and the Harvard Medical School's Program in Global Surgery and Social Change, and worked daily assisting in research protocol design and attending patient home visits.

Dr. Jacob Lepard visits the Cure Children's Hospital of Uganda as part of a global surgery fellowship hosted by UAB and the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School.Dr. Jacob Lepard visits the Cure Children's Hospital of Uganda as part of a global surgery fellowship hosted by UAB and the Program in Global Surgery and Social Change at Harvard Medical School.

CCHU specializes in pediatric neurosurgery and the surgical treatment of hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up in the ventricles deep within the brain. In cases of hydrocephalus, the excess fluid increases the size of the ventricles and puts pressure on the brain, causing possible impairments in brain function and damage to brain tissues. This disease accounts for 3-5 per 1,000 live births in developed countries and around 180,000 new cases in sub-Saharan Africa, each year.

CCHU has created an approach of meeting the needs of this disease in SSA by sponsoring a fellowship that is focused on educating neurosurgeons from low and middle-income countries in the surgical treatment of hydrocephalus. Lepard’s role at CCHU was assisting in data collection on the effectiveness of their fellowship program and surgical outcomes to improve understanding of pediatric hydrocephalus in SSA.

Lepard said he plans to take a follow-up trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, in the spring to further understand hydrocephalus and other neurological diseases in Southeast Asia by providing research support to the neurological centers there that have also partnered with UAB and CCHU.